July 01, 2012 7:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Weeds' Postmortem: EP Reveals the Back Story Behind Nancy's Shooter
[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the Season 8 premiere of Showtime's Weeds.]
Nancy Botwin's (Mary-Louise Parker) past caught up with her in a major way during Sunday's Season 8 premiere of Weeds.
After the shocking Season 7 finale that ended with a gunshot aimed squarely at Nancy's head, the final season of the Showtime dramedy kicked off with the drug-dealing mother's return to suburban life nearly coming to an end after she's rushed to the hospital -- alive! -- with a gunshot wound to the head.
After watching the highly dysfunctional Botwins rally around her in their own unique ways (Andy having sex! Doug copping a feel!), Nancy's shooter revealed himself when he paid a visit to his comatose victim. And the shooter was a real blast from Nancy -- and Shane's -- past: Tim Scottson (Daryl Sabara), the son of DEA agent and Nancy's now-deceased husband, Peter Scottson (Martin Donovan). Turns out that growing up without a father had an equally damaging affect on Tim as it did on Shane.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with executive producer Roberto Benabib to discuss the big reveal that comes nearly five seasons after Tim last appeared on Weeds as the difficult kid who clashed with Shane (Alexander Gould) and hated Nancy for coming between Peter and Valerie and with whom Nancy later clashed over money from the late agent's will.
The Hollywood Reporter: Walk us through the decision to have Tim Scottson be the shooter. What were those talks like, and when did you know?
Roberto Benabib: It's something we'd always been playing with. Every season after Peter Scottson died, we always used to talk about Timmy and the effect it had on him. We used to joke every time someone was killed, "It was Timmy!" Finally the time came where Nancy had gotten far enough away from it that we felt like the audience was not going to be looking for this, Nancy wouldn't be looking for this. We always had a sense that growing up without a father for Timmy had the same kind of almost perverted results that growing up without a father did for Shane. It was thematic for us and we always had it in our holster as a possibility, and we decided it was far enough away that it was time for her past to come haunt her and hunt her down.
Did you ever consider having anyone else be the shooter, Guillermo (Guillermo Diaz) perhaps?
No. We knew it was Tim. Unless we had known it was Tim, I don't think we'd have done [the shooting story line]. What was interesting to us about the shooting was the fact that it was such a strange bit of her past to come get her. It was the son who had ostensibly grown up and, one assumed, went straight. There were so many gangsters who would have wanted her dead, it was just too obvious had we gone that direction. So we would not have done it had we not had a really wonderful ace up our sleeve like Timmy.
Although Nancy is still comatose, she begins to physically react when Tim arrives in her hospital room. How aware is she about who her shooter is?
There's definitely a sense that even in her medically induced coma that she knows someone's there, even that it might be him -- and it's kind of a cool, magical moment.
Tim's past includes a really funny scene where Shane bites his foot during a karate class. Considering Tim didn't feel better after shooting Nancy, how soon before he sets his sights on Shane?
There's more to come on that story. The third episode is key to bringing it on. We always had a sense that there were similarities between Shane and Timmy; we always felt they were both kids that had lost their fathers and in a sense were paying the price for it. They were strange kids to begin with -- there was the fact that they met early on in a few instances and had really weird and bizarre interactions. That told us that there but before the grace of God knows what could have gone on for both of them. Remember, Shane also has blood on his hands.
How long is Nancy going to be comatose?
We were not interested in doing Regarding Henry. We did not want to do episode after episode of slow rehabilitation. Obviously she'll pull through because it's Weeds and we have 12 more episodes to go. You'll see the healing and rehabilitation process will be rushed along a little bit so we can get to the impact the shooting had on Nancy, who she is, who she was before and what she does with second chance and new perspective. Those were all issues and themes we were all chomping at the bit to dive into we want to get to that sooner rather than later. There won't be five episodes of her learning to walk.
How will Shane use his law enforcement training to figure out that Tim is the shooter?
Shane has always been a plucky little problem solver, so he can certainly draw on his experiences in the police academy. But I have a feeling that Shane would have found Timmy eventually on his own anyway.
How is the shooting going to impact Shane? What will their confrontation look like?
It will be surprising how it ultimately plays out. That's something we're always cognizant of in the writers room: What are the expectations, what people will think they're going to see, how you can subvert that in a totally satisfying way where they didn't see it coming but they totally enjoy the way you execute that particular story point.
How will Nancy change as a result of the shooting?
In Episode 2 there's an opportunity for Nancy to start all over again and look back on her life as it was and really decide if that's the way she wants to continue. So this bullet, to a certain extent, is chance for Nancy to reboot. There is a struggle within her. When you want to change your ways, it's not easy. Sometimes the steering just naturally pulls to one side, so you have to grip the steering wheel really tight and move it to the other side because to a certain extent people don't change. One of the things we believe in writers room is people don't change except when there's trauma. And there's certainly trauma to Nancy in this case. She's always got major pressure on her from all sides, so how Nancy negotiates is really going to be the crux of Season 8.
After the shooting, would you say Nancy is done paying for her sins?
There's a whole season to come, so if we were out of sins, there probably wouldn't be an eighth season.
Could Valerie Scottson (Grey's Anatomy's Brooke Smith) return? Might we see Peter in flashbacks?
Flashbacks are something we use very gingerly. We try not to rely too much on them, if at all, if we can because we enjoy telling our story in present tense. I can't tell you never, but that's not something you're going to see a lot of on Weeds. Valerie's return was discussed, but you'll just have to watch and see.
Showrunner Jenji Kohan mentioned this is going to be a very spiritual year. How will that play in?
When you bring a long-running series to an end, you want to know how all the characters they square themselves in a larger, spiritual sense. How do they square themselves with God? How do we finally leave them off? Where do we leave them? And on a macro level, are they satisfied? How would they look back on their lives and judge it? Because it's the final season, we were able to click back a bit and look at these characters under a larger microscope and say: "What is their ultimate fate? Where are they gonna end up, and how are they gonna feel about it?"
Last we spoke with Jenji, she hadn't figured out the final scene of the series yet. Where are you in that process?
We're about to break the final episode. The final episode will be a two-episode special hour. Essentially it'll be one episode -- 12 and 13 will be one hourlong series finale. We have definite ideas of possibilities, but we haven't necessarily zeroed in on exactly the one we want to choose. But we're narrowing it down.
Would you say what you're looking at is more emotionally satisfying or more action-packed?
To a certain extent, we ask ourselves what is it as viewers we want from a series finale of a show we've been watching for years, and it's both. You have to settle the scores emotionally, and also you want to know where they're going to end up and how they're going to end up. So there's kind of a duality of purpose there where you want to know how the characters are going to end up inside and also outside.
Were you surprised to see who the shooter was? How would you like to see Weeds end its run? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Weeds airs at 10 p.m. Sundays on Showtime.